Press release:

Cybersecurity: UK managers vulnerable to cyber threats

Tuesday 16 January 2024
  • Research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that one in 10 managers (10%) say they only have basic skills around cybersecurity such as using secure passwords and identifying phishing attacks.
  • Four out of five (85%) managers think that their own digital skills need improvement.
  • Almost one in five managers (19%) say that their organisation has digital basics in place.

London - Research from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) found that one in 10 managers (10%) have only a basic understanding of safety and security practices such as using strong passwords and avoiding phishing scams to ensure cybersecurity.

The survey of over 1,000 UK managers asked them to rate their knowledge of a range of skills adapted from the National Careers Service’s essential digital skills at work framework to determine where they feel comfortable and where they see room to improve.

The research revealed another clear skills gap in their knowledge of how to use calendars and scheduling tools such as Google calendar and Outlook, with 10% saying they only had basic knowledge; and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn for personal or professional use, with one in five (21%) saying they had basic or no knowledge of how to use the tools. Almost one third of managers (31%) said they had little or no knowledge of using file management and sharing tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Overall, over four out of five (85%) UK managers think they need to improve their digital skills.

The data comes as the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee warned that millions of UK citizens are falling behind due to digital exclusion, in part, for not having skills to get online. The report found that 22% of the UK labour force do not have the Essential Digital Skills needed for the workplace. This divide is undermining efforts to improve productivity and the ambition to make the UK a technology superpower.

When asked about some more advanced digital skills, 29% of managers have at least intermediate knowledge of search engine optimisation techniques (SEO) and 31% have at least intermediate knowledge of using web analytics tools such as Google Analytics. The least common digital skill for managers to have knowledge of is programming languages such as Python and Java with only 11% saying that they had at least intermediate knowledge of this.

Managers believe that both employees themselves (84%) and the organisations (92%) they work for have a responsibility to develop their digital skills but that organisations should lead the way in improving the digital skills of their employees.

Almost one in five managers (19%) say that their organisation ‘has digital basics in place such as social media or remote working, with ambitions to do more’. Just over half of managers (53%) say that their organisation has a digital strategy in place and 5% of managers say their organisation ‘struggles with the basics and generally has low digital skills’.

In response to the data, CMI’s Director of Policy, Anthony Painter, said:

While the government aspires to position the UK as the international centre for fast-moving AI regulation, the current reality reveals a strong layer of existing digital exclusion, leaving some workers struggling with essential digital skills.

The House of Lords report decisively echoes our own findings - the pace of workers' skills training is falling behind the rapid advancements in technology.

For the UK to thrive as a competitive, successful global economy and society, we urgently need to provide these individuals with the training they require to fully participate in the digital world.

We also need to address the real risks that come with lack of digital skills for organisations of all sizes, most notably around cybersecurity if managers themselves say they do not have the skills they need to keep data safe from potential attacks.

Companies have a crucial role to play in this endeavour. They must prioritise training and preparing managers to adeptly handle both basic digital skills and emerging technologies, as it will pave the way for the UK to find its path out of the economic doldrums.

- Ends -

Media contact:

Notes to editors

  • This Managers Voice Pulse Point Poll was conducted between 18th May and 25th May 2023.
  • A total of 1,006 managers took part in the poll.
  • Please note the findings relate to practising managers in employment in the UK.
  • Anthony Painter is available for interview.

About the Chartered Management Institute (CMI):

The Chartered Management Institute is the professional body for managers and leaders. We have a membership community of over 200,000 aspiring and practising managers and more than 150,000 people are currently studying on one of our management and leadership programmes. Our Royal Charter defines our charitable mission as increasing the number and standard of professionally qualified managers and leaders.